I have seen much written about how motherhood negatively affects your career. I don’t dispute it but I want to share how motherhood actually helped my career. Yes, I admit it. I am an optimistic, half full kind of person. But there is still something here. Although nothing I learned is much more than common sense . . .becoming a mother made me open to embrace it.
Being a mom (or
"mama" as my daughter prefers) taught me brutal
prioritization. Don’t get me wrong, I could prioritize before. I
needed this skill to complete law school right after getting married and handle
my responsibilities as a overworked associate at a large firm for three
years before my first child arrived.
prioritization is different – it requires complete honesty. To do it
effectively, I need to dig deep and figure out what is truly important. I use a quote as a litmus test: "No one ever lies on
their death bed wishing they spent more time at the office." When I
take this long view, the answers are clearer. Before motherhood, I was
more likely to accept another’s priority: "This project requires you
to work over the weekend." "Good mothers don’t miss any of
their kids activities." "You can have it all if you just work
prioritization evolved. I learned I am no good to anyone if I don’t take care
of myself. This includes the physical but also what brings me
fulfillment. I give myself permission to make my interests, like writing,
cooking, and gardening, important. I try to do them with my kids and share them with friends and
family so they seemed less indulgent. But they are priorities.
I also made my
kids my priority. But that doesn’t mean I make all their important
events. I do my best to consistently show them how important they are to
me. I try to help them see I am a whole person with dimensions beyond
being their mother. I want my boys to respect women’s choices. And
I want my daughter to have freedom to make her own choices.
I focus on leaving regret behind as a wasteful emotion. It furthers no priorities. I try not to second guess when I let myself or someone else down. Instead I strive to learn from failure and move on as quickly as I can. I do my best to be in the moment. Seeing my boys grow from babies to young adults in what felt like just a few short years hit home with me that each moment is precious and fleeting. We (with one son missing since he was the photographer) are pictured enjoying a dinner in Greece, my husband’s homeland, even as I was juggling operational planning with my team remotely. (Motherhood also taught me the beauty of the word "AND" but that's for a later post.)
working mother gave a speech on balancing when I was a young mom. A
line stuck with me. “If you are going to spend time away from your kids, do
something you truly love.” I make finding joy in my work a
focus --both in the intellectual exercise and in the human element.
I share with my kids what I learn to give them a perspective on things in their
future as well as a more complete view of who I am.
I went to a
Franklin Covey seminar shortly after getting a big role some years ago.
One take away was not to separate work and home when you prioritize -- but to
view your life as a whole. At the time, I was beginning to do this
naturally but not consistently. Since then, I work to make it how I live.
After becoming a mom, I had greater success in
my career and more fulfillment in my life. Brutal prioritization is my
yardstick to measure the depth and breadth of my life